Exploitation most foul

The Globe and Mail recently published a series of features on child development, with articles covering many perspectives and providing details on physical, social, and psychological aspects of our younger generation. While I have no kids at this point, I certainly feel that people my age should pay more attention to what’s happening to the children in our world. Certainly, we have the media capacity to zoom in on anything as miniscule as dating rituals in America or anything as intense as the war on Iraq.


There are major crises happening all over the globe with children as you read this. I know, many immediately think of child labour in sweatshops or starvation in third-world countries. Yes, those are serious problems, but one cannot really imagine Canadian children working in dirty factories or starving to death. As much as developed countries like to think they treat their children like angels, the fact remains that people will always continue updating their child-exploitation methods.


Why? Because kids are innocent. And this is precisely why these crimes are so heinous.


When I first arrived at a certain industrialized city in China, among skyscrapers, women with their Chanel suits, businessmen with laptops and cell phones and everything else modern, I saw ragged children without limbs crawling around begging for money. I later learned from a news feature these children were kidnapped by strangers of a large underground network who would amputate their limbs in order to lure sympathy money.


These were the kinds of stories you read about in undeveloped villages or places where people feel the need to sell their kids for quick cash. Not that those are lesser evils, but it is certainly more outrageous when you see it happen before your very eyes.


Perhaps I can relate a more close-to-home story that would strike North Americans in the same shocking way. By now, most people should have heard tales of child pornography on the Internet. By default, anyone who has access to the Internet in their own private space already has some kind of accumulated wealth. As a matter of fact, there is a large audience for such perverted content in North America and x-rated websites are only the tip of the iceberg.


The New York Times Magazine recently ran a cover story on child trafficking for prostitution in the United States. It was close to 10 pages long and described some of the most horrific things I can imagine.


Hearing underage prostitution, teenagers often come into mind, but some people have more twisted sexual appetites than that. In fact, there is a market for sexual abuse on toddlers, young children, pre-adolescents and adolescents alike. Furthermore, the majority of these children are kidnapped by strangers. They don’t get amputated to beg, but rather starved, spanked and raped in every way possible.


This is not a third-world problem, it’s an international one.


Another story that made the headlines a month ago involved a young girl whose disturbing photos on a website provided clues for police when they zoomed in on the logo of her school uniform. This was happening in the United States and, according to the Globe and Mail, the website showed pictures of this girl locked in a dog cage with an adult male defecating on her. There is even a name for this type of perversion, it’s called "hurtcore." One can only imagine where this compound word derived from.


What is truly haunting about these stories is that they could happen to someone I know, maybe even to my future children. In many child pornography cases, teachers, cops, nurses, social workers and other trusted parties were the culprits. These are real tragedies and children are forever scarred because of these abuses. These stories are so awful that I sometimes wish I never read about them or witnessed any victims. But then I think about the FBI and specialists who deal with this on a daily basis, about how traumatic it must be for them to look into the eyes of hurt children.


Now that people are more open about their sexuality maybe it’s time we reflect on the limitations. The Internet provides almost infinite ways to feed any sexual taste, but more liberty for porn hardly seems morally just to me. People need to stop thinking about themselves and start realizing more important and devastating problems exist outside their realms.


Indeed, I will never forget seeing those children with no limbs, and I will never forget the details of those reports. It further saddens me to know some people won’t feel any different after reading this article.

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